July 03, 2008
Okay! A FanFix of people consider "the greatest crime in cinematic history". Let's see if this cut of Batman & Robin still holds up today.
As you know, B&R was subject to a cinematic blazing on release in regards to its silly nature, over-abundance of campy one-liners, and excessive neon lighting, all of which distracted from the main conflict of the film: trust issues between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Dick Grayson/Robin.
According to the official thread for this fan edit on originaltrilogy.com, this began as a challenge for a user known as BatmanMD. When another user known as greencapt agreed to take it on for himself, what came out was beloved by Batman fans everywhere as a major improvement over the theatrical cut.
In August 2017, I got to see for myself the "masterpiece" greencapt had put out 12 years prior. And in my honest opinion, it works. It really works. I have no idea what greencapt is doing to this day, but without a shadow of a doubt, I must commend him for his valiant attempt at making B&R "watchable".
To be fair, I actually pretty like the theatrical cut for what it is: a movie made for a broad audience to appeal to a younger demographic. Of course, this attempt was botched by Warner Bros. bigwigs' desire to turn a profit. Within layers of silliness lies an emotionally investing tale about trust and family.
To start off, the story.
greencapt has done his best to peel back the aforementioned layers and let the filmmakers' true intentions shine. The film has been cut down to a lean 66 minutes, removing a major subplot in the process — the one in particular being Alfred's diagnosis. This isn't too much of a loss, as we still have Mr. Freeze's wife, Nora, in cryogenic stasis while he continues his research for a cure.
All of Batman and Robin's arguing has been stripped away, making it look as if the dynamic duo are working together all the way through. This is honestly really impressive for what greencapt was going for, as you don't have to sit through Robin's petty whining and the whole competition for Poison Ivy.
Next, the characterization.
George Clooney's performance as Batman has been re-edited so that he comes off as more "professional", and his relationship with Robin is more laid back in this version. The new addition to the team, Batgirl, remains in the film, but her character has been reduced significantly to maintain significance to the main duo.
The main villain, Mr. Freeze, is also drastically different to the theatrical cut. His ice puns have been scaled back dramatically, leaving only two or three intact, and he no longer helps Batman at the end of the film. He is more sinister and cunning, and all-the-more determined to cure his ailing wife. And speaking of Poison Ivy, she remains pretty much the same. This is due to the fact that her entire performance is over-the-top, yet she does her part in balancing out the darkness in her pairing with Freeze.
And the coup de grâce, Bane! Bane, portrayed by the late pro-wrestler Jeep Swenson, is more badass in this cut than he was before, and we get very little of his growls and roars. One gripe many tend to have about him in this version is that he disappears without explanation near the end, though greencapt soon makes up for it with a chilling yet awesome post-credits tease (which is very much reminiscent to a horror movie), where he rises from the smouldering wreckage of the Gotham Observatory.
And finally, the editing.
Dear God, now I know first-hand the meaning of the term "De-Assified", both in a literal and metaphorical sense! The bat-arses and crotch shots have all been cut (feels kinda weird saying this during Pride Month, since Joel Schumacher is an openly gay director), and the motorcycle race with Coolio as the banker is also gone, as is Vivica A. Fox's cameo (for the good of the franchise, ma'am).
The reverse shot of Robin during the fight between Ivy and Batgirl is omitted, and our heroic duo no longer click their heels together to pop skates out of their boots during the museum clash. It is literally everything any Batman fan of any kind could ask for. And plus, the film is presented in crisp DVD quality for your viewing pleasure.
One thing I like the most about this cut is the ending — where Mr. Freeze confronts a mentally-impaired Ivy at Arkham Asylum and vows to "make her life a living hell". His chilling (no pun intended) final words, "Winter... has come at last", are what close the movie as the screen smash cuts to black on Ivy's terrified face.
Now I will admit, the edits aren't perfect. Just as mrbadcrumble stated, there are a few fades too many, and compromises had to be made in terms of audio editing. But you can definitely tell greencapt tried his hardest to redeem this shining turd. And as I said, some of the camp remains intact. But hey, it's a 90's movie. What do you expect?
Overall, this is a fan edit that comes off more as three continuous episodes of The New Batman Adventures rather than an actual, three-act movie. But it is a fan edit worth tracking down. I can assure those that it'll sit comfortably on your shelves as a worthy follow-up to Batman Forever. greencapt, I tip my hat off to you, sir, for this impressive achievement of yours — making B&R a bearable experience to those who couldn't get through the first hour of the original.
Joel Schumacher is a rather fine director in my view, and I commend him as well for giving it his all for his two Bat-outings, even if Batman Forever reigns supreme as a true Batman film (with a bit of tinkering here and there). So I can't blame him for being forced to amp up the camp just to please the Hollywood suits.
What's more, the theatrical cut is what lead to the unfortunate cancellation of the fifth film in the series, Batman Triumphant, which would've brought the franchise back to its darker, more serious roots, and probably would've seen the return of a few familiar faces. ;)
Nevertheless, Batman & Robin: De-Assified, even if it has a few editing detractors, is worthy enough of a watch. It'll please those who loathed the decisions made in the theatrical version, and it'll DEFINITELY please Batman fans alike. I think I speak for all of us here on the IFDB when I say — highly recommended! Go give it a watch, you won't be disappointed! A solid A+ from yours truly!